James Lunn, innovations director, Savvy Marketing
James Lunn, innovations director, Savvy Marketing
A view from James Lunn

Think BR: Tablet ownership, TV advertising and catching the shopper off guard

An increase in tablet ownership is forcing brands to rethink how they communicate with TV audiences, writes James Lunn, innovations director, Savvy Marketing.

Last year was, without doubt, the year the tablet came into its own. Twelve months ago, parts of the population could be forgiven for not really understanding what one was -  a big phone, a small PC, a headache cure - or quite where it fit in terms of filling a consumer need.

However, as 2013 approaches our own research shows us that around 24% of shoppers now own a tablet, with this set to rise to a huge 67% during 2013.

This rapid saturation means that the tablet is changing the way that the UK population consumes online content and entertainment. A heavy laptop, irritating booting times and a hot crotch no longer need to get in the way of a casual browse, with the tablet sitting much more comfortably alongside a cup of tea, magazine and the TV remote than a PC ever could.

Hand-in-hand with ownership numbers rising month-on-month, there is a huge (and still growing) opportunity for brands, marketers and TV advertisers alike. For the first time, large numbers of consumers have access to a device which they can use to interact with content as it happens on screen, in real-time.

Some brands are already doing this; in April Channel 4’s Prometheus film trailer dramatically incorporated a real-time Twitter feed into their ad campaign. Later in the year ITV used a different approach during the final of Britain’s Got Talent, featuring a Shazam triggered experience from Pepsi Max and Cadburys. This included competition entry mechanics which added value content and external links for second screening viewers.

The exciting thing is, this is just the beginning. Increasing tablet ownership will encourage brands and advertisers to invest more time and money in to discovering new ways to engage with target audiences. So with UK mobile and tablet ad spend likely to be in the realms of £350 million in 2012 - and rising by more than 100% annually - what can we expect from our favourite brands in 2013?

It’s likely we will follow the US, where they have services like Watch With eBay, which allow consumers to buy products that feature in the TV programmes as they watch. We will also see Real-time High Frequency Triggers become more prevalent. At Savvy we are currently working with a US company that can embed high pitch sound signals in to TV advertisements, in-store or in the high street which will automatically trigger content on handheld devices in certain proximity - without otherwise disturbing others, or their pets.

So what does this all mean in the context of shopper marketing? Well, let’s start off by looking at the people currently shop on and offline. Bricks and mortar superstores, though offering a wide choice to the consumer, are actually inefficient.

In a typical grocery superstore there are 45,000 items stocked, however an average shopper might only buy 25 items. That equates to 0.05% being relevant to the shopper. Online grocery stores also offer wide choice to consumers, but in reality shoppers only see a limited number of SKUs, which is typically limited to sticking to a buying routine based on their existing repertoire. Attempts to promote goods outside their 'favourites' are often hindered by banner blindness.

In both cases when a consumer is in shopper mode they are focused on getting the job done and subconsciously filter out what they perceive as the equivalent of junk mail messaging. Yes, consumers want ideas, inspiration and offers, but they have to be relevant to them and delivered at a time when they are receptive to receiving them. And what our insight tells us is that when shoppers are receptive to relevant offers, inspiration and ideas they might not be in shopper mode. One such time is when they’re watching TV.

Smartphones and tablet devices enable brands and retailers to communicate with consumers when they are not in shopper mode. This means we have the opportunity to create TV ads that pull consumers into shopper mode for a split second, a split second that is most relevant to them. At Savvy we call this 'disruptive engagement' - shopper marketing when a consumer isn’t in what is traditionally known as shopper mode.

Because tablet devices offer consumers the ability engage in real-time, in the comfort of their own arm chair, an extra dimension to TV advertising is emerging. Using new technologies, true dual-screen content consumption will be possible. Whether it’s buying goods, adding a new product to their favourites, entering a competition or playing a game, consumers will soon become used too, and ultimately expect additional relevant shopper-lead content embedded into a TV/Digital brand experience.

As ever, as far as advertising goes, 2013 will see its winners and losers. It will be very interesting to see which brands make the most of this opportunity, and which will miss out. We all talk about the ‘moment of truth’ in a shopper’s journey, but in reality the moment of truth can be at any time, in any place in a consumer’s life.

True relevance to a consumer is at that point when a desire or curiosity for a product arises. Smartphones and tablets are merely the channel to capitalise on that desire or curiosity at that point in time. Advertisers in 2013 will not only have to spend time developing creative and compelling TV ads, but also think how they can capture and capitalise on its call to action in real-time, using the latest haptic technologies.

James Lunn, innovations director, Savvy Marketing